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A New York Times Newspaper in Education Curriculum Guide

GRAMMAR

RULES

Using The New York Times

to Teach Grammar, Punctuation

and Clarity in Writing

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10-0309


Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

INTRODUCTION ....................................................................2-8

New York Times reprinted articles ....................................................2-5

Using This Guide and the Worksheet Activities ..........................................6-8

NEW YORK TIMES SERVICES FOR TEACHERS ..........................................9

CORRELATION TO NATIONAL STANDARDS .........................................10-11

No. Lesson Title Grammar Focus

What To Use From

The New York Times Page

Model Lesson Plan Categorizing Nouns Photos 12-13

1 At the Scene Categorizing Nouns Photos 14-15

2 Fit and Proper Proper Nouns Any Section 16

3 Compound and Collective Other Noun Types Advertisements 17

4 Modifications Adjectives House&Home Section 18

5 Adverb Exploration Adverbs Sports 19

6 Up Close and Personal Personal Pronouns Any Section 20-22

7 On Top of Prepositions Prepositions Photos 23

8 On the Clock Parts of Speech Op-Ed, Business Day, Sports 24–25

9 Functionality Sentence Functions Any Section 26

10 Structural Matters Subject and Predicate Any Section 27

11 In Agreement Subject/Verb and Pronoun

Antcedent Agreement

Business Day 28

12 In Agreement Again Compound Subjects/Verbs Any Section 29

13 Punctuation Perfection Commas International News 30

14 Quote Me On That Indirect and Direct Quotations Any Section 31

15 Interviewing Matters Punctuation Use With Quotations Any Section 32

16 Seek and Find All Punctuation and Rules for Use Sports, Arts, Dining 33

17 Conjunction Functions Use of Conjunctions National & International News, Arts 34

18 Compound Conundrum Compound Subjects/Verbs Science Times, Escapes 35

19 State Your Case Personal Pronoun Case Any Section 36

20 Stay On the Case of the Pronouns Nominative/Objective Cases Arts, National & International News 37

21 A Test Case Tests for Correctness Science Times 38

22 Focus of the Week Parts of Speech Practice Any Section 39

23 Apostrophe Cleanup Rational for Apostrophes Any Section 40

24 Contracting Verbs Formal/Informal Writing Various Sections 41

25 Spelling Rules! Spelling Rules Advertisements 42

26 Department of Corrections Incorrect Grammar/Spelling All Media 43

27 Just A Formality Informal/Formal Language Arts/Weekend Sections 44

28 A Personal Word Bank Vocabulary Development Editorials 45

29 Spelling Rules in Action Spelling Any Section 46

30 Abbreviation Elation Abbreviations Any Section 47

31 A Times Spelling Bee Spelling “A” Section 48

32 Photo Op Writing Photos 49

Written by Ann West. Introduction and additional activities by Ellen S. Doukoullos. This educator’s guide was developed by The New York

Times Newspaper in Education program. It did not involve the reporting or editing staff of The New York Times, other than containing news

articles previously published in The New York Times.

© 2010 The New York Times

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Article

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

I Think, Therefore IM

INTRODUCTION

Text Shortcuts Invade Schoolwork, and Teachers Are Not Amused

By JENNIFER 8. LEE

EACH September Jacqueline Harding

prepares a classroom presentation on

the common writing mistakes she

sees in her students’ work.

Ms. Harding, an eighth-grade English

teacher at Viking Middle School in Guernee,

Ill., scribbles the words that have plagued

generations of schoolchildren across her

whiteboard:

There. Their. They’re.

Your. You’re.

To. Too. Two.

Its. It’s.

This September, she has added a new list:

u, r, ur, b4, wuz, cuz, 2.

When she asked her students how many of

them used shortcuts like these in their writing,

Ms. Harding said, she was not surprised

when most of them raised their hands. This,

after all, is their online lingua franca: English

adapted for the spitfire conversational

style of Internet instant messaging.

Ms. Harding, who has seen such shortcuts

creep into student papers over the last two

years, said she gave her students a warning:

‘‘If I see this in your assignments, I will

take points off.’’

‘‘Kids should know the difference,’’ said

Ms. Harding, who decided to address this

issue head-on this year. ‘‘They should know

where to draw the line between formal

writing and conversational writing.’’

As more and more teenagers socialize

online, middle school and high school teachers

like Ms. Harding are increasingly seeing

a breezy form of Internet English jump

from e-mail into schoolwork. To their dismay,

teachers say that papers are being

written with shortened words, improper

capitalization and punctuation, and characters

like &, $ and @.

Tom Strattman for The New York Times

DECODING

Deborah Bova

turns students’

instant-messagingabbreviations

into standard

English in

her eighth-grade

English class in

Indianapolis.

Teachers have deducted points, drawn

red circles and tsk-tsked at their classes.

Yet the errant forms continue. ‘‘It stops

being funny after you repeat yourself a

couple of times,’’ Ms. Harding said.

But teenagers, whose social life can rely

as much these days on text communication

as the spoken word, say that they use instant-messaging

shorthand without thinking

about it. They write to one another as much

(Continued on Page 3)

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Article (continued)

Students’

Shortcuts

Continued From Page 2

as they write in school, or more.

‘‘You are so used to abbreviating

things, you just start doing it unconsciously

on schoolwork and reports

and other things,’’ said Eve Brecker,

15, a student at Montclair High

School in New Jersey.

Ms. Brecker once handed in a midterm

exam riddled with instant-messaging

shorthand. ‘‘I had an hour to

write an essay on Romeo and Juliet,’’

she said. ‘‘I just wanted to finish

before my time was up. I was writing

fast and carelessly. I spelled ‘you’

‘u.’ ’’ She got a C.

Even terms that cannot be expressed

verbally are making their

way into papers. Melanie Weaver

was stunned by some of the term

papers she received from a 10thgrade

class she recently taught as

part of an internship. ‘‘They would be

trying to make a point in a paper,

they would put a smiley face in the

end,’’ said Ms. Weaver, who teaches

at Alvernia College in Reading, Pa.

‘‘If they were presenting an argument

and they needed to present an

opposite view, they would put a

frown.’’

As Trisha Fogarty, a sixth-grade

teacher at Houlton Southside School

in Houlton, Maine, puts it, today’s

students are ‘‘Generation Text.’’

Almost 60 percent of the online

population under age 17 uses instant

messaging, according to Nielsen

/NetRatings. In addition to cellphone

text messaging, Weblogs and e-mail,

it has become a popular means of

flirting, setting up dates, asking for

help with homework and keeping in

contact with distant friends. The abbreviations

are a natural outgrowth

of this rapid-fire style of communication.

‘‘They have a social life that centers

around typed communication,’’

said Judith S. Donath, a professor at

the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s

Media Lab who has studied

electronic communication. ‘‘They

have a writing style that has been

nurtured in a teenage social milieu.’’

Some teachers see the creeping

abbreviations as part of a continuing

assault of technology on formal written

English. Others take it more

lightly, saying that it is just part of

the larger arc of language evolution.

‘‘To them it’s not wrong,’’ said Ms.

Harding, who is 28. ‘‘It’s acceptable

because it’s in their culture. It’s hard

enough to teach them the art of formal

writing. Now we’ve got to overcome

this new instant-messaging

language.’’

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

THE NEW YORK TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

Ms. Harding noted that in some

cases the shorthand isn’t even shorter.

‘‘I understand ‘cuz,’ but what’s

with the ‘wuz’? It’s the same amount

of letters as ‘was,’ so what’s the

point?’’ she said.

Deborah Bova, who teaches

eighth-grade English at Raymond

Park Middle School in Indianapolis,

thought her eyesight was failing several

years ago when she saw the

sentence ‘‘B4 we perform, ppl have 2

practice’’ on a student assignment.

‘‘I thought, ‘My God, what is

this?’ ’’ Ms. Bova said. ‘‘Have they

lost their minds?’’

The student was summoned to the

board to translate the sentence into

standard English: ‘‘Before we perform,

people have to practice.’’ She

realized that the students thought

she was out of touch. ‘‘It was like

‘Get with it, Bova,’ ’’ she said.

Ms. Bova had a student type up a

reference list of translations for

common instant-messaging expressions.

She posted a copy on the bulletin

board by her desk and took another

one home to use while grading.

Students are sometimes unrepentant.

‘‘They were astonished when I began

to point these things out to

them,’’ said Henry Assetto, a social

studies teacher at Twin Valley High

School in Elverson, Pa. ‘‘Because I

am a history teacher, they did not

think a history teacher would be

checking up on their grammar or

their spelling,’’ said Mr. Assetto, who

has been teaching for 34 years.

But Montana Hodgen, 16, another

Montclair student, said she was so

accustomed to instant-messaging

abbreviations that she often read

right past them. She proofread a

paper last year only to get it returned

with the messaging abbreviations

circled in red.

‘‘I was so used to reading what my

friends wrote to me on Instant Messenger

that I didn’t even realize that

there was something wrong,’’ she

said. She said her ability to separate

formal and informal English declined

the more she used instant

messages. ‘‘Three years ago, if I had

seen that, I would have been ‘What is

that?’ ’’

The spelling checker doesn’t always

help either, students say. For

one, Microsoft Word’s squiggly red

spell-check lines don’t appear beneath

single letters and numbers

such as u, r, c, 2 and 4. Nor do they

catch words which have numbers in

them such as ‘‘l8r’’ and ‘‘b4’’ by

default.

Teenagers have essentially developed

an unconscious ‘‘accent’’ in

their typing, Professor Donath said.

‘‘They have gotten facile at typing

and they are not paying attention.’’

Teenagers have long pushed the

boundaries of spoken language, introducing

words that then become

passé with adult adoption. Now teenagers

are taking charge and pushing

the boundaries of written language.

For them, expressions like ‘‘oic’’ (oh

I see), ‘‘nm’’ (not much), ‘‘jk’’ (just

kidding) and ‘‘lol’’ (laughing out

loud), ‘‘brb’’ (be right back), ‘‘ttyl’’

(talk to you later) are as standard as

conventional English.

‘‘There is no official English language,’’

said Jesse Sheidlower, the

North American editor of the Oxford

English Dictionary. ‘‘Language is

spread not because not anyone dictates

any one thing to happen. The

decisions are made by the language

and the people who use the language.’’

Some teachers find the new writing

style alarming. ‘‘First of all, it’s

very rude, and it’s very careless,’’

INTRODUCTION

James Estrin/The New York Times

INGRAINED Eve Brecker, 15, of Montclair, N.J., uses instant-messaging shorthand unconsciously in essays.

said Lois Moran, a middle school

English teacher at St. Nicholas

School in Jersey City.

‘‘They should be careful to write

properly and not to put these little

codes in that they are in such a habit

of writing to each other,’’ said Ms.

Moran, who has lectured her eighthgrade

class on such mistakes.

Others say that the instant-messaging

style might simply be a fad,

something that students will grow

out of. Or they see it as an opportunity

to teach students about the evolution

of language.

‘‘I turn it into a very positive

teachable moment for kids in the

class,’’ said Erika V. Karres, an assistant

professor at the University of

North Carolina at Chapel Hill who

trains student teachers. She shows

students how English has evolved

since Shakespeare’s time. ‘‘Imagine

Langston Hughes’s writing in quick

texting instead of ‘Langston writing,’

’’ she said. ‘‘It makes teaching

and learning so exciting.’’

Other teachers encourage students

to use messaging shorthand to

spark their thinking processes.

‘‘When my children are writing first

drafts, I don’t care how they spell

anything, as long as they are writing,’’

said Ms. Fogarty, the sixthgrade

teacher from Houlton, Maine.

‘‘If this lingo gets their thoughts and

ideas onto paper quicker, the more

power to them.’’ But during editing

and revising, she expects her students

to switch to standard English.

Ms. Bova shares the view that

instant-messaging language can help

free up their creativity. With the help

of students, she does not even need

the cheat sheet to read the shorthand

anymore.

‘‘I think it’s a plus,’’ she said. ‘‘And

I would say that with a + sign.’’

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Article

By SAM DILLON

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — R. Craig

Hogan, a former university professor

who heads an online school for

business writing here, received an

anguished e-mail message recently

from a prospective student.

“i need help,” said the message,

which was devoid of punctuation. “i

am writing a essay on writing i work

for this company and my boss want

me to help improve the workers writing

skills can yall help me with some

information thank you”.

Hundreds of inquiries from managers

and executives seeking to improve

their own or their workers’

writing pop into Dr. Hogan’s computer

in-basket each month, he says, describing

a number that has surged as

e-mail has replaced the phone for

much workplace communication.

Millions of employees must write

more frequently on the job than previously.

And many are making a

hash of it.

“E-mail is a party to which English

teachers have not been invited,’’

Dr. Hogan said. “It has companies

tearing their hair out.”

A recent survey of 120 American

corporations reached a similar conclusion.

The study, by the National

Commission on Writing, a panel established

by the College Board, concluded

that a third of employees in

the nation’s blue-chip companies

wrote poorly and that businesses

were spending as much as $3.1 billion

annually on remedial training.

The problem shows up not only in

e-mail but also in reports and other

texts, the commission said.

“It’s not that companies want to

hire Tolstoy,” said Susan Traiman, a

director at the Business Roundtable,

an association of leading chief executives

whose corporations were surveyed

in the study. “But they need

people who can write clearly, and

many employees and applicants fall

short of that standard.”

Millions of inscrutable e-mail messages

are clogging corporate com-

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2004

INTRODUCTION

What Corporate America Cannot Build: A Sentence

Kristen Schmid for The New York Times

puters by setting off requests for

clarification, and many of the requests,

in turn, are also chaotically

written, resulting in whole cycles of

confusion.

Here is one from a systems analyst

to her supervisor at a high-tech

corporation based in Palo Alto,

Calif.: “I updated the Status report

for the four discrepancies Lennie forward

us via e-mail (they in Barry

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Kathy Keenan, above, teaches business writing in Santa

Cruz, Calif. Craig Hogan, left, who directs an online school

on the subject, says, “E-mail is a party to which English

teachers have not been invited.’’

file).. to make sure my logic was correct

It seems we provide Murray

with incorrect information ... However

after verifying controls on JBL -

JBL has the indicator as B ???? - I

wanted to make sure with the recent

changes — I processed today — before

Murray make the changes again

on the mainframe to ‘C’.”

The incoherence of that message

persuaded the analyst’s employers

that she needed remedial training.

The more electronic and global

we get, the less important the spoken

word has become, and in e-mail clarity

is critical,” said Sean Phillips, recruitment

director at another Silicon

Valley corporation, Applera, a supplier

of equipment for life science research,

where most employees have

advanced degrees. “Considering how

highly educated our people are,

many can’t write clearly in their

day-to-day work.”

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Article (continued)

Some $2.9 billion of the $3.1 billion

the National Commission on Writing

estimates that corporations spend

each year on remedial training goes

to help current employees, with the

rest spent on new hires. The corporations

surveyed were in the mining,

construction, manufacturing, transportation,

finance, insurance, real estate

and service industries, but not in

wholesale, retail, agriculture, forestry

or fishing, the commission said.

Nor did the estimate include spending

by government agencies to improve

the writing of public servants.

An entire educational industry has

developed to offer remedial writing

instruction to adults, with hundreds

of public and private universities,

for-profit schools and freelance

teachers offering evening classes as

well as workshops, video and online

courses in business and technical

writing.

Kathy Keenan, a onetime legal

proofreader who teaches business

writing at the University of California

Extension, Santa Cruz, said she

sought to dissuade students from

sending business messages in the

crude shorthand they learned to tap

out on their pagers as teenagers.

“hI KATHY i am sending u the assignmnet

again,” one student wrote

to her recently. “i had sent you the

assignment earlier but i didnt get a

respond. If u get this assgnment

could u please respond . thanking u

for ur cooperation.”

Most of her students are midcareer

professionals in high-tech industries,

Ms. Keenan said.

The Sharonview Federal Credit

Union in Charlotte, N.C., asked about

15 employees to take a remedial

writing course. Angela Tate, a mortgage

processor, said the course eventually

bolstered her confidence in

composing e-mail, which has replaced

much work she previously did

by phone, but it was a daunting experience,

since she had been out of

school for years. “It was a challenge

all the way through,” Ms. Tate said.

Even C.E.O.’s need writing help,

said Roger S. Peterson, a freelance

writer in Rocklin, Calif., who frequently

coaches executives. “Many

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2004

of these guys write in inflated language

that desperately needs a laxative,”

Mr. Peterson said, and not a

few are defensive. “They’re in denial,

and who’s going to argue with the

boss?”

But some realize their shortcomings

and pay Mr. Peterson to help

them improve. Don Morrison, a onetime

auditor at Deloitte & Touche

who has built a successful consulting

business, is among them.

“I was too wordy,” Mr. Morrison

said. “I liked long, convoluted passages

rather than simple four-word

sentences. And I had a predilection

for underlining words and throwing

in multiple exclamation points. Finally

Roger threatened to rip the exclamation

key off my keyboard.”

Exclamation points were an issue

when Linda Landis Andrews, who

teaches at the University of Illinois

at Chicago, led a workshop in May

for midcareer executives at an automotive

corporation based in the Midwest.

Their exasperated supervisor

had insisted that the men improve

their writing.

“I get a memo from them and cannot

figure out what they’re trying to

say,” the supervisor wrote Ms. An-

drews.

When at her request the executives

produced letters they had written

to a supplier who had failed to deliver

parts on time, she was horrified

to see that tone-deaf writing had

turned a minor business snarl into a

corporate confrontation moving toward

litigation.

They had allowed a hostile tone to

creep into the letters,” she said.

They didn’t seem to understand that

those letters were just toxic.”

“People think that throwing multiple

exclamation points into a business

letter will make their point

forcefully,” Ms. Andrews said. “I tell

them they’re allowed two exclama-

tion points in their whole life.”

Not everyone agrees. Kaitlin Duck

Sherwood of San Francisco, author

of a popular how-to manual on effective

e-mail, argued in an interview

that exclamation points could help

convey intonation, thereby avoiding

INTRODUCTION

What Corporate America Cannot Build: A Sentence

confusion in some e-mail.

“If you want to indicate stronger

emphasis, use all capital letters and

toss in some extra exclamation

points,” Ms. Sherwood advises in her

guide, available at www.webfoot-

.com, where she offers a vivid example:

“>Should I boost the power on the

thrombo?

“NO!!!! If you turn it up to eleven,

you’ll overheat the motors, and IT

MIGHT EXPLODE!!”

Dr. Hogan, who founded his online

Business Writing Center a decade

ago after years of teaching composition

at Illinois State University here,

says that the use of multiple exclamation

points and other nonstandard

punctuation like the :-) symbol, are

fine for personal e-mail but that companies

have erred by allowing experimental

writing devices to flood

into business writing.

He scrolled through his computer,

calling up examples of incoherent

correspondence sent to him by prospective

students.

“E-mails - that are received from

Jim and I are not either getting open

or not being responded to,” the purchasing

manager at a construction

company in Virginia wrote in one

memorandum that Dr. Hogan called

to his screen. “I wanted to let everyone

know that when Jim and I are

sending out e-mails (example- who is

to be picking up parcels) I am wanting

for who ever the e-mail goes to to

respond back to the e-mail. Its important

that Jim and I knows that the

person, intended, had read the

e-mail. This gives an acknowledgment

that the task is being completed.

I am asking for a simple little 2

sec. Note that says “ok”, “I got it”, or

Alright.”

The construction company’s human

resources director forwarded

the memorandum to Dr. Hogan while

enrolling the purchasing manager in

a writing course.

“E-mail has just erupted like a

weed, and instead of considering

what to say when they write, people

now just let thoughts drool out onto

the screen,” Dr. Hogan said. “It has

companies at their wits’ end.”

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

THE DIFFICULTY OF TEACHING GRAMMAR . . . AND A SOLUTION

Poor grammar is all around us. We hear it on television, in school hallways, on the street, and on cellphones.

Some incorrect expressions have become so common that correct grammar forms can sound incorrect to our

tortured ears.

Many students bring informal language habits to your classroom that have the ring of “bad” grammar. These

habits require modification if students are to develop their grammatical skills — and do well on standardized

tests. The New York Times Knowledge Network offers students a model that can help reinforce positive

grammar and usage, and influence the development of grammar skills.

This curriculum guide has been designed to help your students understand and acquire “good” grammar skills,

both written and spoken. The exercises on these Worksheets use The Times to help students experience proper

grammar in the context of writing for a highly literate audience. As your students practice using proper

grammar on a daily basis with a real-life model, you can expect improvement in their ability to recognize

differences between informal and formal language.

We encourage you to share these Worksheets and the value of The New York Times with your colleagues —

including teachers in other disciplines, especially social studies, where writing is such an important part of

learning. The Times can help all teachers explain concepts in their subject areas while reinforcing good language

skills.

USING THE NEW YORK TIMES

INTRODUCTION

To motivate reading: When each student has a copy of The New York Times in your classroom every day, you’ll

find that it is much easier to motivate students in active reading and active learning. When every student in

your class has his or her own copy of The Times, instead of photocopies of particular articles, they can easily

read it in class and take it with them. This allows students to feel ownership and encourages them to read

articles that have not been read in class — further enhancing their reading skills.

To involve students from a variety of cultures: You will also discover that one of the greatest benefits of using

The New York Times in the classroom is that it provides a link to the entire world. Many schools today have

students from a wide range of countries, and Times coverage gives these students material that speaks directly to

them. Direct them to the “Foreign Journal” feature on page A4 of the main news section, which focuses on

cultures around the world. Reading these articles together is a way for your students to better understand each

other and their cultural backgrounds.

To build self-esteem: Teachers have also reported that a copy of The New York Times in the hands of every

student builds self-esteem. Students recognize The Times as a quality newspaper, and they may be hesitant to

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

INTRODUCTION

explore it at first. But within a short period of time you will notice their growing confidence in reading and

talking about the wide range of serious — and lighter — topics that The Times covers every day. The Times

creates a thirst for continued learning long after students leave your classroom and establish themselves as

citizens in our communities.

Try to give students time to freely skim and read what they want in The Times prior to or following the

completion of Worksheets and the other activities in this guide. In fact, The Times is widely used as part of SSR

(Sustained Silent Reading) or DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) school-wide programs. And of course, in all

classrooms, reading time is an investment that reaps rewards in improved vocabulary and grammar.

HOW TO USE THE WORKSHEET ACTIVITIES

Before you use the Worksheets, it’s a good idea to look each one over, noting the terminology used as well as the

instructions to the students. If you find that some of the terminology is different from what you normally use

when working on grammar, you may want to indicate this to your students before they begin to work.

The activities can be used in small or large group settings, and for individualized instruction or as

homework assignments.

The Worksheets may be used in any order. Each Worksheet has a specific grammar focus, which is listed in the

Table of Contents and on each page.

Worksheets may be photocopied for classroom use with The New York Times and distributed to students.

A model lesson plan and Worksheet are provided to demonstrate how any of the Worksheets can be used with

your students.

Most Worksheets in this guide begin with an initial “Getting Started” segment to introduce the grammar rule

or concept involved, although additional instruction and practice beyond the Worksheet may be needed for

specific students. Individual differences in classrooms are best assessed by the teacher; you may want to consider

creating additional Worksheets for extended practice. The Worksheets in this guide should be viewed as models

for teacher use/adaptation/extension.

Though Worksheets may direct students to specific sections of the newspaper, you can direct them to other

sections to best accommodate your students’ needs and interests.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE activity appears on a number of the Worksheets. This activity is intended to connect

classroom learning to experiences with grammar outside the classroom.

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

INTRODUCTION

As suggested in the Model Lesson Plan, students should create a notebook of grammar-building skills for use

with enrichment exercises and for taking notes on improving grammar skills. Worksheet 26 includes a suggested

format for a grammar notebook.

Encourage students to have fun with these activities as they use The New York Times in building their language

skills and developing confidence in their use of the English language. (Worksheet 28 provides a format for a

student’s vocabulary notebook.)

There are a number of games for reinforcing grammar and spelling that can involve the entire class on

Worksheets 35 and 36. Think of other games you can use in your classroom to extend grammar skills.

Create student portfolios by collecting students’ completed Worksheets. These portfolios can assist in tracking

student progress and in conferences with students and parents to help students reach their individual learning goals.

A PARTIAL LIST OF RESOURCES:

● Grammar textbooks

● A variety of dictionaries

● A thesaurus

● “Painless Grammar,” by Rebecca Elliott, Ph.D., Barrons

● “Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition,” by John E Warriner, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

The Associated Press Stylebook

The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (available at booksellers and on the Web at www.nytstore.com)

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

NEW YORK TIMES SERVICES FOR TEACHERS

WEB SITE

nytimes.com/nie

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THE NEW YORK TIMES LEARNING NETWORK

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

CORRELATION

1

The lessons in this curriculum guide are correlated with relevant national standards from McREL (Mid-continent

Research for Education and Learning). These standards represent a compendium derived from most state standards.

Each McREL standard has subcategories, or benchmarks, for different levels of instruction.

For details, see www.mcrel.org.

SOURCE: “Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education,” by John S. Kendall and Robert J.

Marzano (2002, 3rd. ed.): Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), Denver, Colo.: www.mcrel.org. Used by permission

of McREL, 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500, Denver, Colo. 80237; (303) 337-0990.

STANDARDS FOR:

WRITING

1 Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.

2 Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing.

3 Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions.

4 Gathers and uses information for research purposes.

READING

5 Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.

6 Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts.

7 Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.

LISTENING AND SPEAKING

8 Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

VIEWING

9 Uses viewing skills and strategies to interpret visual media.

MEDIA

10 Understands the characteristics and components of the media.

See next page for correlation of standards to individual lessons.

TO NATIONAL STANDARDS

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LESSON/WORKSHEET NUMBER

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

CORRELATION

TO NATIONAL STANDARDS

GRAMMAR TOPIC STANDARDS

1 Categorizing nouns .....................................................1,3,5,8,9,10

2 Identifying proper nouns ......................................................1,3,5,7

3 Identifying and categorizing collective and compound nouns .......................3,5,7,9,10

4 Using adjectives to modify nouns ...............................................1,2,3,8

5 Enhancing the meaning of verbs through the use of adverbs .......................1,2,3,5,7,8

6 Analyzing the function of pronouns; identifying personal pronouns and the nouns

from which they take their meaning ........................................1,3,5,6,7,10

7 Analyzing the function of prepositions in relationship to nouns and pronouns ..........1,3,5,9,10

8 Identifying various parts of speech in a sentence ....................................3,5,6,8

9 Identifying parts of speech and the roles that each part of speech may play

in a sentence .................................................................2,3,5

10 Identifying subjects, verbs and modifiers ........................................1,2,3,5,8

11 Analyzing matching forms of words for subject-verb and

pronoun-antecedent agreement .....................................................3,5

12 Analyzing matching forms of words for subject-verb and

pronoun-antecedent agreement .................................................1,3,5,8

13 Distinguishing among the various rules that apply to correct comma usage .............3,5,6,7,8

14 Analyzing use of quotation marks in direct and indirect quotations ..................1,3,5,8,10

15 Practicing other punctuation used with quotation marks ...........................1,2,3,5,8

16 Locating various types of punctuation used in print and identifying

the punctuation needed .........................................................3,5,8

17 Finding different conjunctions used in print ...........................................3,5

18 Recognizing compound subjects and compound verbs in writing .......................1,3,5,6

19 Choosing the correct form of pronouns for case ......................................3,4,8

20 Choosing the correct form of pronouns for use in a critique ...........................1,3,5,8

21 Applying simple tests to decide if the selected personal pronouns are

correct (standard) usage .......................................................1,3,5,8

22 Identifying grammar in action in The New York Times .................................3,5,8

23 Citing reasons for using apostrophes to punctuate, enhance and clarify meaning ...........1,3,4,5

24 Creating contractions and using apostrophes to show the position of

thedeletedletters............................................................3,5,7,8

25 Applying spelling rules to words in advertisements ..................................3,4,5,7

26 Recognizing incorrect grammar and spelling in everyday life and correcting

theerrors ................................................................3,5,6,7,8

27 Distinguishing between informal and formal language use ..........................1,3,4,5,8

28 Acquiring new vocabulary words ..................................................3,4,5

29 Applying spelling rules ............................................................3,5

30 Decoding abbreviations for meaning ...............................................1,3,5

31 Identify correct spelling and context of key vocabulary words ..........................3,5,6,7

32 Writing concise and accurate descriptions .........................................1,2,3,9

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

Categorizing Nouns

MODEL LESSON PLAN

1

(Lesson 1)

OBJECTIVES

PREPARATION

At the conclusion of this lesson,

students will be able to:

● identify common and proper

nouns and categorize them by type.

● utilize common and proper

nouns to describe what’s going

on in a news photo.

TOOLS NEEDED

● Today’s New York Times, one

copy per student

● Copies of Worksheet 1, one per

student

● Overhead transparency of a large

photo from the front page of

The New York Times

● Overhead transparency of

Worksheet 1

● Tape

● Scissors (optional)

● Assemble tools.

● Review rules for nouns.

WARM-UP

● Distributes copies of today’s New York Times to each student in

your class.

● ASK YOUR STUDENTS:

■ Can you “see” words in pictures? Look at the large photo on the front

page of today’s New York Times.

■ What does the headline of the article accompanying the photo say?

What does the caption say? (The headline is above the article; the

caption, which describes what is going on in the photo, is generally below

or alongside the photograph.)

● What things do you see in this photo?

● List student answers on the board. (Most will be nouns; many students will

also offer modifiers, in the form of adjectives, of the things they see, e.g.,

angry protesters, little child, red shirt, brown hair.)

Display overhead transparency of Worksheet 1 (modeling worksheet).

● Look at the words we have listed on the board. Which words are nouns?

(Worksheet Step D)

● Today we are going to be sorting nouns into categories; some of these

categories may go beyond “person, place or thing” to include ideas,

actions and conditions.

● Are any of the nouns you mentioned proper nouns? Identify the proper

nouns in the list. Proper nouns include names of people, brand names of

clothing, buildings or street names, etc.

● How can you tell the difference between a proper noun and a common

noun? (Proper nouns are capitalized, and are generally more specific and

exact than common nouns.)

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

MODEL LESSON PLAN

Categorizing Nouns (Lesson

1)

● Looking at the nouns on our list, can you change some of the proper

nouns to common nouns and common nouns to proper nouns?

(Worksheet Step E) Answers will vary depending on original student

responses. If a person’s name was given — John Doe — the common noun

would be “man.”

NEWSPAPER ACTIVITY

● Direct students to select another photo and complete the Worksheet,

including Step F. Show students how to crease the paper around a photo

and carefully tear it out without using a scissors.

EXTENSION/INDEPENDENT

PRACTICE/HOMEWORK ACTIVITIES

● Look at the photos used in the class discussion and the photos

selected for the completion of Worksheet 1. Identify actions, ideas,

qualities and conditions that might be represented in each photo.

Discuss these other categories of nouns. (Actions: protest, speech,

assistance. Ideas: concern, anger, friendship. Conditions: squalor,

excitement, peace. Qualities: bravery, persistence, enthusiasm.)

● Create notebooks of interesting parts of speech. Begin the notebook

with noun categories. Use The Times to continue adding to your

word bank of nouns. Use any free time during the school day to add

to your notebook as you read The Times, your textbooks or other

material.

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WORKSHEET 1: At the Scene

Student Name:

1

LESSON

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

OBJECTIVE:

Identifying, categorizing and writing with nouns, using photos in The New York Times

Getting Started: Newspaper photos illustrate the words and ideas in news articles. Photos in The New

York Times generally show people or objects that are represented by nouns in the accompanying news

article and captions. Note: The headline is in larger type than the article and generally appears above the

article. The caption is in smaller type and is generally below the photo.

A. Select a news photo from any page of today’s Times.

B. Write the headline of the article accompanying the photo below.

C. Writing directly on the photo, identify everything you see in the picture.

(For example, if the picture shows a person, you may see a nose, eyes, shirt, watch, eyebrows, etc.)

D. You should have listed many words that are nouns. Categorize them in the chart below. Use the

“Other” category for those nouns that don’t fit into any of the first three categories.

People Places Things That Can Be Seen Other

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WORKSHEET 1: At the Scene

Student Name:

1

LESSON

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

E. For some of the common nouns you’ve listed, give examples of related proper nouns. Example: street

(common noun); Madison Avenue (proper noun). List the proper nouns in the space below. If you

listed a proper noun in the chart in section D, give a common noun to replace it. Example: Adidas

(proper noun); shoe (common noun).

Common Proper Proper Common

F. Tape the news photo on the back of this Worksheet and write a paragraph describing your reaction to

the photo. Read the accompanying news article, if there is one, for more information.

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WORKSHEET 2: Fit and Proper

Student Name:

OBJECTIVE: Identifying proper nouns

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

1 2

LESSON

Getting Started: Common nouns refer to a class of things and are generally not specific. Proper nouns

identify a particular person, place or thing and provide more precise information. For example, the

common noun “building” does help a reader develop an idea of some type of structure, though one’s

idea of a building may range from “barn” to “skyscraper.” A proper noun for “building” might be

“Sears Tower,” which gives a reader a very specific image.

A. Select a news article from any section of The New York Times. Make sure your selection contains

several proper nouns.

B. Read the article. As you read, circle the proper nouns in the article.

C. Rewrite at least three paragraphs of the selected article by changing the proper nouns you circled to

common nouns.

D. Clip the paragraphs from The Times that you rewrote and tape them alongside your rewrite with

common nouns.

E. Compare the two different writing styles and explain why the use of proper nouns or common

nouns is better.

EXTENSION/HOMEWORK ACTIVITIES

F. Search several copies of The Times for proper nouns that might replace the following common nouns:

leader disease agency

city street man

building business woman

country people region

G. THE JOB CONNECTION: Select a person from an article in The Times. List common nouns and

proper nouns that this individual might use on the job. Read the article for ideas about his or her job.

Consult a book or the Internet about whatever kind of work he or she does and look for relevant

vocabulary words. At the end of your list of nouns, write a paragraph with your opinion of this kind

of work. Use some of the nouns from your list in the paragraph.

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

3

WORKSHEET 3: Compound and Collective

Student Name:

OBJECTIVE: Identifying and categorizing collective and compound nouns in ads

LESSON

1

Getting Started: In addition to common nouns and proper nouns, the English language uses compound

nouns and collective nouns. Compound nouns consist of more than one word to identify a person,

place or thing (basketball, General Smith, jack-o’-lantern) and may be a compound word, two

separate words or a hyphenated word. Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things acting as

one (committee, team, crew, congregation, club), but are not considered plural nouns (siblings,

members, townspeople). “Hair” is a collective noun in English but in Greek, “hair” is not a collective

noun. Greeks say,“Comb your hairs.”

A. Skim the pages of today’s New York Times and clip four ads from the newspaper.

B. Study each advertisement you selected and use a highlighter to mark every noun you find in the ad.

C. In the chart below, sort every noun you marked into the most appropriate category.

Common Nouns Proper Nouns Collective Nouns Compound Nouns

D. Create an ad for any product or service using all four kinds of nouns. Illustrate the ad using images

clipped from The Times.

EXTENSION/HOMEWORK ACTIVITY

If you know another language, keep a notebook comparing different kinds of nouns in English and the

other language. Make a chart illustrating the comparisons. Share them with the class.

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WORKSHEET 4: Modifiers

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

4

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Using adjectives to modify nouns

Getting Started: Adjectives help to define or clarify nouns. For example, the simple noun “man” can be

more clearly defined by using various adjectives to modify it. The image of “man” becomes clearer if it

is preceded by adjectives such as “angry,” “crooked,” “tall,” “generous,” “uninformed” or “exuberant.”

A. Read through the House & Home section of The New York Times, which appears every Thursday.

B. See how Times reporters use adjectives to describe objects around the house.

C. Look at an object nearby (a chair, a cabinet, a rug, etc.). List at least 10 adjectives that describe

(modify) this object.

D. Use your list of modifiers (adjectives) to write a description of this object in the style of the House &

Home section. Use a separate sheet of paper for the first draft of your descriptive writing. Revise it

until it is grammatically perfect and describes the object completely and cleverly.

EXTENSION/HOMEWORK ACTIVITY

E. THE GRAMMAR POLICE: Well and Good

Do you know when to use well and good? These two little words cause big problems for many people.

Well may be used as either an adjective or an adverb.

As an adjective, well has three meanings: to be in good health, to appear well dressed or groomed, to

be satisfactory. As an adverb, well means capably: The ship was built well.

Good is always an adjective; it cannot be used to modify/describe a verb.

F. THE GRAMMAR POLICE: Listen for the incorrect use of the word good in daily conversation. (An

example of INCORRECT USAGE: You did good.) Take note of incorrect uses of good and well that

you hear and report on them to your class, without naming the speakers.

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WORKSHEET 5: Adverb Exploration

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

5

LESSON

2

OBJECTIVE: Enhancing the meaning of verbs through the use of adverbs

Getting Started: Just as adjectives modify (describe) nouns, adverbs help to modify or further clarify the

meaning of adjectives, verbs or other adverbs. Adverbs can further define other words by telling how,

when, where or to what extent.

A. Use the Sports section from today’s New York Times to search for adverbs in headlines, captions, news

articles and opinion columns. HINT: Many adverbs end in “ly,” but not ALL words ending in “ly” are

adverbs. Some adjectives (kindly, lovely) end in “ly” as well.

B. Work with a partner to skim the headlines, captions, news articles and columns for adverbs. Circle

every adverb you find. Try to find at least 15 adverbs.

C. Work together with your partner to test your adverb selection.

● What does each adverb modify — an adjective, verb or another adverb? Indicate the word modified by

drawing a square around the word and identifying the modified word as an adjective (adj), verb (vb)

or adverb (adv).

● Does the adverb tell how, when, where or to what extent? If your answer is yes, then it is likely that

you’ve found an adverb.

D. On your own, use the adverbs you found in today’s Sports section to create a brief article about an

athletic event you recently attended or watched on television. Use articles about games or events from

today’s Times for information in writing your review.

Write your new article in the space below.

F. THE GRAMMAR POLICE: Write down every adverb you hear your classmates use when they read

their articles. How do adverbs enhance ideas in speaking and writing? Are they accurate? Be courteous:

Discuss any errors without naming the speakers.

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

6

LESSON

WORKSHEET 6: Up Close and Personal

OBJECTIVE: Analyzing the function of pronouns; identifying pronouns and the nouns from which

they take their meaning.

Getting Started: Pronouns are words that are used in place of nouns and take their meaning from the

nouns they represent. Examine this sentence: “Jonas Smith led the league in bases stolen, yet he was

never properly honored for his accomplishment.” The pronoun “he” takes its meaning from the proper

noun “Jonas Smith.” The actual name of the person in this sentence could have been used twice, but

the pronoun effectively replaces the noun and avoids repetition.

A. Select a column or a feature article from today’s New York Times.

B. Circle every pronoun you can find in the column/feature and draw an arrow from each pronoun to

the noun from which it gets its meaning. Underline the noun.

Example:

Jonas Smith led the league in bases stolen, yet he was never honored for his achievement.

C. After completing step B, read the article or column to yourself, replacing each of the pronouns used

with the noun it represents.

D. List the advantages of using pronouns in writing.

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

6

LESSON

WORKSHEET 6: Up Close and Personal (continued)

E. Read the following sentence that is similar to, yet very different from, the sentence in step B.

Jonas Smith led the league in stolen bases, but Tommy Jones, his coach, said he never got the

recognition that was due to him.

In this new sentence, who does the word “he” refer to?

F. Discuss this sentence as a class and talk about some of the errors or confusion that can occur when

using pronouns.

G. Suggest a new structure for the sentence in step E to make its meaning clearer.

EXTENSION/HOMEWORK ACTIVITY

Be on the alert for ambiguity (confusion or double meaning) in whatever you read. Look carefully at

school announcements, bulletin boards, video game instructions or ads. When you find ambiguity

created by a confusing pronoun reference, bring the example to class and ask your classmates to clear up

the confusion. Make a poster or establish a classroom bulletin board with examples that you and your

classmates find.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE: Clear Up the Confusion

The following article, “College Board Corrects Itself On Test Score,” from The New York Times is

about a situation in which unclear pronoun references resulted in confused meaning — with real

consequences for those involved. Read the article and write several alternative ways that the sentence

from the PSAT could have been written more clearly.

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

6

LESSON

WORKSHEET 6: Up Close and Personal (continued)

THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2003

College Board Corrects

Itself On Test Score

For the first time in almost 20

years, the College Board has rescored

the PSAT to give the 1.8 million

students who took the test on

Oct. 15 credit for a different answer

on an ambiguous grammar question.

The question asked students

whether there was a grammatical

error in the following sentence:

‘‘Toni Morrison’s genius enables her

to create novels that arise from and

express the injustices African Americans

have endured.’’

The College Board thought the sentence

was correct, and considered

the right answer to be ‘‘E’’ or ‘‘no

error.’’

But Kevin Keegan, a high school

journalism teacher in Silver Spring,

Md., disagreed. He complained to the

testers that, strictly speaking, the

word ‘‘her’’ referred not to Toni Morrison,

but to ‘‘Toni Morrison’s,’’ a

grammatical error. So the correct

answer, he said, was ‘‘A,’’ signifying

a mistake within the words ‘‘her to

create.’’

Slightly more than half of those

tested gave the answer the College

Board originally considered right,

far more than chose any other answer.

But an unusually high number

of students skipped the question —

some, perhaps, because they were

aware of the ambiguity and did not

want to choose a wrong answer.

By TAMAR LEWIN

‘‘We decided the question was

flawed,’’ said Lee Jones, a vice president

of the College Board.

But because of the way the PSAT

is scored, there was no perfect way

to change the scores. Students get a

point for each correct answer on the

test and a quarter-point off for each

incorrect answer.

‘‘We decided to throw the question

out, which gave the students who

selected A a little bump in their

score, because they were no longer

penalized for a wrong answer,’’ Mr.

Jones said. ‘‘But we didn’t want to

penalize the students who chose E, so

we rescored and let students keep

whichever is the higher of the two

scores. We know it’s not perfect, but

it seemed like the best solution.’’

Mr. Keegan, though, said it was a

terrible solution. ‘‘This still means

that students who answered A don’t

get as good a score as those who

answered E,’’ he said.

The question would count for only

a point or two of a student’s overall

score. But that can be crucial, Mr.

Keegan said, since the PSAT’s are

used as the screening test for National

Merit Scholarships.

SUPPORT THE FRESH AIR FUND

Copyright © The New York Times

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WORKSHEET 7: On Top of Prepositions

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

7

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Analyzing the function of prepositions in relation to nouns and pronouns

Getting Started: Prepositions are words that show the relationship of a noun or a pronoun to other

words in a sentence. “The government building across the river is securely guarded” contains the

preposition “across.” This preposition shows the relationship of the noun “building” to the noun

“river.” Changing the preposition “across” to “beside” or “near” would change the relationship

between “building” and “river.” Prepositions may seem to be small matters, but they are important

in defining relationships and conveying meaning.

A. Select an interesting photo from any page in today’s New York Times.

B. Clip the photo from the newspaper and tape it on the reverse side of this Worksheet or on another

piece of paper, as your teacher directs.

C. Identify the people, places and things (nouns) in the picture by writing what you see on the photo.

Study the relationship of the nouns to each other and write five sentences about what you see in

the photo. Use prepositions to describe the relationships between the nouns. Underline each

preposition you use. Write your sentences in the space below.

Example: The Secretary of State is seated behind the president of the United States.

EXTENSION/HOMEWORK ACTIVITY

Look at the large map in the Weather Report in today’s Times. Write a review of the weather for

your state and the states that surround it. Use prepositions and prepositional phrases to describe

the position of the surrounding states in relation to your state. Use prepositions and prepositional

phrases to describe the weather movement shown and changes in the weather expected in your

region (your state and surrounding states).

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WORKSHEET 8: On the Clock

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

8

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Identifying various parts of speech in a sentence

Getting Started: Each part of speech (noun, pronoun, preposition, verb, adjective, adverb,

conjunction, interjection) performs a specific function in a sentence. The most basic sentences

contain a subject (one of the functions of a noun/pronoun, for example) and a predicate (a function

of a verb). “He speaks” is a complete sentence, though a very simple one. “He” is the subject; the

part of speech playing the role of the subject is a pronoun. “Speaks” is the predicate, a role

performed by the part of speech known as a verb.

A. Select a sentence from the Op-Ed page, Business Day and Sports section of The New York Times.

Choose sentences that tell you something you didn’t know before you read today’s Times. Copy

each of the three sentences below.

B. Look carefully at each sentence. Work with a partner to identify the part of speech for each word in

the sentences, as in the example below. Be sure to review the eight parts of speech (noun, pronoun,

verb, adjective, adverb, conjunction, preposition, interjection) before beginning this exercise.

(sentence) Game 2 of this series will be in Detroit Tuesday.

(parts of speech) (n) (adv) (prep) (pron) (n) (v) (v) (prep) (n) (n)

C. To check your answers, look in your grammar book (or a dictionary) for assistance.

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Student Name:

GRAMMAR BINGO

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

8

LESSON

WORKSHEET 8: On the Clock (continued)

Create a Bingo card with nine squares for you to use at your desk. In each square, write the name

of a different part of speech. Put an X in the center square you will have left over. Here’s an

example:

Verb Preposition Noun

Pronoun X Adverb

Adjective Conjunction Interjection

Cut nine small squares of plain paper — about the same size as the squares on your Bingo card — to

use as chips. In class, play Grammar Bingo:

● Write one of your sentences from section A on the board.

● Challenge your classmates to identify the part of speech as you point to each word in sequence. As

you call out each word and a classmate correctly identifies the part of speech, announce that it is

correct and that classmates may cover that part of speech on their card with a chip. (The X may be

covered with a chip at the beginning of the game.)

● When someone has completed a line (down, across, diagonally) by covering three squares with

chips, he or she should call out BINGO. Start over with new sentences from The New York Times

written on the board.

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WORKSHEET 9: Functionality

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

9

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Identifying parts of speech and the roles that each part of speech plays in a sentence

Getting Started: A word can function as a different part of speech depending on how that word is

used in a given sentence. For example, the word “long” can be a noun, adverb or adjective.

VERB: “I long for the quiet days in the country.”

ADVERB: “It has been so long since we have seen each other.”

ADJECTIVE: “The long stretch of road between Kansas City and Denver was shortened

by good company.”

In any section of The New York Times, find examples of the same word used as different parts of

speech. Clip these examples and make them into a poster.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE

In your notebook, record examples of words you hear used incorrectly. Identify the part of speech for

the word that is incorrectly used, and then correct its usage.

For example: “Drive careful” is incorrect because an adjective (careful) is modifying a verb (drive). An

adverb should be used to modify the verb: “Drive carefully.”

GRAMMAR POLICE NOTEBOOK PAGE

INCORRECT USAGE WHY CORRECT USAGE

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WORKSHEET 10: Structural Matters

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

10

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Identifying subjects, verbs and modifiers

Getting Started: Simple sentences must contain a subject and a verb. Clauses, phrases and other

modifiers can add to the basic foundation of a sentence (subject and verb) to include more information.

A. Most headlines in The New York Times are complete sentences. A complete sentence contains a

subject and a verb. Select any page of today’s Times and analyze each headline on the page. Look

for the basic sentence structure of a subject and verb. When you find a complete sentence in any

(or all) of the headlines, write both the headline and the subject/verb below.

Headline:

Subject and Verb:

Headline:

Subject and Verb:

Headline:

Subject and Verb:

B. Rewrite the headlines you found that were NOT complete sentences and did not contain a subject

and a verb. Check to see if a complete sentence would have fit in the space available.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY:

Select any one of the headlines from this activity and read the accompanying article. Read the story

carefully and write a letter to the editor to explain your point of view or your feelings about this article.

Look at the letters to the editor in today’s Times for examples to help you understand how to write a

letter to the editor.

Exchange your letters with two other classmates. Review your classmates’ writing to check for complete

sentences. When you are satisfied that every sentence in the letter written by one classmate is complete,

pass the letter to the next classmate in the group for review. By the time you finish your reviews, you

will have read three letters to the editor (including your own). If you find a sentence you think is

incomplete, talk to your classmate about it and suggest a way to make it complete.

Discuss the content of the letters. Why do you agree or disagree with the opinions stated?

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 27


WORKSHEET 11: In Agreement

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

11

LESSON

OBJECTIVE:

Analyzing matching forms of words for subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement

Getting Started: “Agreement” refers to the matching of word forms in a sentence.

People are supporting the mayor.

(The plural subject, “people,” and the plural verb, “are,” agree.)

One person is supporting the mayor.

(The singular subject, “person,” and the singular verb, “is,” agree.)

A student must turn in his paper.

(The pronoun, “his,” agrees with the noun, “student,” which is the antecedent.)

Students must turn in their papers.

(The pronoun, “their,” agrees with the antecedent, “students.”)

A. Select an article from the Business Day section of today’s New York Times. As you read, find

examples of subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.

B. Create a list of the examples you found.

C . Create a poster on this aspect of grammar, using articles from different sections of The Times.

Compare the complexity of the sentences from the different sections. Do some sections

use more complex sentences? Note your findings on the poster.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Collect examples of incorrect subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement you find in writing and

hear in conversation. As you see and hear these examples, decide why the incorrect usage occurred and

what could be changed to make the subject and verb or pronoun and antecedent agree.

Add these examples to your grammar notebook.

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WORKSHEET 12: In Agreement Again

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

12

LESSON

OBJECTIVE:

Analyzing matching forms of words for subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement

Getting Started: So what’s so difficult about correct subject-verb agreement? Singular subjects take

singular verbs and plural subjects require plural verbs — but it can get more complicated.

You just breezed through the previous exercise, but you may not have encountered compound subjects,

which present challenges for subject-verb agreement. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out whether a

subject is singular or plural (crew, team, neither, anyone, etc.), and therefore which verb should be used

with it. It can be particularly challenging when subjects and verbs are separated by a number of words.

● Create a Grammar Test using your favorite section of today’s New York Times. First, select and

read several articles in the section.

● Select a long sentence from one of the articles you chose and rewrite the sentence using incorrect

subject-verb or pronoun-antecedent agreement below.

● Clip out the article and tape it on the back of this Worksheet as an answer key.

● Exchange “tests” with a classmate. Correct the grammar. Check accuracy by reading the article on

the reverse side of the Worksheet.

● Discuss the article. Why is it important enough to be published in The Times?

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

13

LESSON

WORKSHEET 13: Punctuation Perfection

OBJECTIVE: Understanding the rules that apply to correct comma usage

Getting Started: Notice the use of commas, which indicate when to take a breath or pause as you

read your copy of today’s New York Times. Writers do not insert commas randomly. Specific rules of

punctuation guide their usage.

A. Select an article from the international pages (in Section A) of today’s Times to read as a group. Take

turns reading paragraphs aloud and as others read, circle the commas in each paragraph.

B. For each comma you find in the article you read as a group, look at the section on comma usage in

your grammar book to find the rule that is being followed.

C. Discuss the rules you think are reflected in the use of commas in the article. Write the rules of

comma usage on the board or on an overhead projector as you state each rule.

D. Identify other rules of comma usage.

E. Skim the pages of today’s New York Times to find examples of comma usage and the rules that

apply to each. Create a poster of comma uses with clippings from The Times. Connect the comma

rules to the Times articles taped on the poster.

JOURNALISM NOTES:

Newspapers employ grammar and style experts known as “copy editors.” (The word “copy” refers to the

text of an article.) They review the work of reporters and other editors and change punctuation or

words, if needed. In everyday life, people don’t have copy editors handy to check their writing! That’s

why understanding grammar is important to making your own writing better.

Differences exist between some of the rules in grammar books and the grammatical style used in

journalism. Read the following excerpt from “The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage” about

using commas in a series:

In general, do not use a comma before “and” in a series: The snow stalled cars, buses and trains.

What do your classroom grammar resources say about the use of commas in a series?

Continue your investigation of this rule in your classroom copy of “The New York Times Manual of

Style and Usage.” The explanation of the rule(s) about serial commas offers more detail.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 30


WORKSHEET 14: Quote Me On That

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

14

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Analyzing the use of quotation marks in direct and indirect quotations (paraphrasing)

Getting Started: Quoting someone means writing down the exact words he or she says. Quotation

marks are placed around the words to indicate that someone used those exact words. Paraphrasing what

someone says (which is sometimes referred to as an indirect quotation) captures the essence of what

someone says, but does not show the exact words used. Paraphrasing does not require quotation marks.

Example of direct quotation:

The president of the company stated, “There probably will be more layoffs in the future.”

Example of paraphrasing:

The president of the company indicated that layoffs could be expected in the future.

A. Find a feature article or an interview in any section of today’s New York Times.

B. Read the article for information.

C. Look for examples of direct quotations. Write the direct quotes and the name of the speaker in the

space below.

DIRECT QUOTE:

Speaker:

D. Look through the article one more time to find examples of paraphrasing. Write an example of

paraphrasing and the name of the speaker in the space below.

PARAPHRASING:

Speaker:

E. Paraphrase the direct quote from step C.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Listen to radio or television news broadcasts to find out how quotes are handled in these types of

reporting. Do they use direct quotations? How do you know? Discuss your findings in class. Give an

example of how you would report a direct quote on a TV or radio show.

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WORKSHEET 15: Interviewing Matters

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

15

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Reviewing the use of other punctuation with quotation marks

Getting Started: Other types of punctuation marks are used with quotation marks. For example,

where does the period at the end of a sentence go? Does it belong inside or outside the quotation mark?

A. Review the rules below regarding punctuation with quotation marks.

● Always place a comma or a period inside the final quotation mark.

Example: The chairman said, “This meeting is adjourned.”

“This meeting is adjourned,” said the chairman.

● Always put a semicolon or a colon outside the final quotation mark.

Example: The general remarked, “I couldn’t have asked for better response to the call to duty”;

another leader indicated the response was less than expected.

(In this instance, the semicolon connects two complete, yet closely related sentences.)

● Place a question mark or exclamation mark inside the final quotation mark if it is part of the

quotation.

Example: The activist cried out, “When will this war ever end?”

● Place a question mark or an exclamation mark outside the final quotation mark if it is NOT part of

the quotation.

Example: Do you believe that the television news anchor was exaggerating when he said,

“Everybody is leaving town due to the West Nile virus scare”?

B. As a class, look through the pages of today’s New York Times for examples of punctuation used with

quotes. Identify the types of punctuation you find and the rules above that seem to explain their

usage.

C. Provide your teacher with each example as you find it and ask your classmates which rule of

punctuation applies.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

With a partner, stage an interview for the class on a topic from a Times article. Tape the interview as you

interview your partner. Have the class listen to the live interview and takes notes, then write up the

interview in news-article style using direct quotes and paraphrasing. Exchange final drafts. Then, play

the tape so students can check the accuracy of their direct quotes and paraphrasing. Underline any errors

in red. Return the written interviews and discuss whatever was wrong.

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WORKSHEET 16: Seek and Find

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

16

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Locating various types of punctuation used in print and identifying the punctuation

needed in various kinds of writing

Getting Started: Punctuation helps to clarify the meaning of anything written. A quick scan of The

New York Times will give you an idea of the many types of punctuation that are in common use, as

well as the reasons for their use.

ACTIVITY A

● Make a list of every type of punctuation mark you can recall.

● Look in The Times for examples of punctuation marks used. Add any punctuation marks you find

that you did not list. (Does your original list include colons? Does your list include dashes?)

● As a class, discuss some of the punctuation marks you found and determine why a specific

punctuation mark was used in each case. As you discuss the reasons, keep your grammar book

handy in case you need to look up guidelines for the use of different punctuation marks.

ACTIVITY B

● Select a feature article from the Sports or Arts sections, or Dining In/Dining Out, which runs on

Wednesdays. Read the article.

● Select one or two paragraphs from the article and retype the paragraphs on a computer. Eliminate

all of the punctuation used in the paragraph(s) chosen. Print out one copy.

● Pair up with a classmate and exchange printouts. Insert punctuation that will make the writing

clearer and easier to read.

● Compare your punctuation additions to the original punctuation used in The Times.

Discuss the content of the articles you chose. Think like a Times editor: Why do you think these specific

articles were selected for publication in The Times?

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

17

LESSON

WORKSHEET 17: Conjunction Functions

OBJECTIVE: Finding different conjunctions used in print

Getting Started: Conjunctions act as “joiners” in a sentence: They join related words, phrases or

clauses. There are three different types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative

conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

A. Look in your grammar books for information about the three types of conjunctions. Make a list of

the conjunctions generally found in each category.

B. Look through the National and International news pages of today’s New York Times to find

examples of conjunctions. Sort the examples you find.

Coordinating Correlative Subordinating

C. Select two of the sentences in which you found conjunctions and rewrite them without

conjunctions. What does this tell you about the uses of conjunctions?

What happens to the sentences?

Correlative conjunctions are pairs that are used together, but in different parts of a sentence. These pairs

include neither/nor, either/or, not only/but also.

Read several reviews in the Arts section of today’s Times and write statements about the artists featured.

Use each of the correlative conjunction pairs to describe the artists discussed by the writers.

Examples:

McLachlan is neither bothered nor upset by the lack of pesky fans.

McLachlan is busy with either marriage or motherhood.

McLachlan not only has dealt with career changes, but also has survived the impact of the death of her mother.

What did you discover about these artists that you did not know before reading The Times?

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

18

LESSON

WORKSHEET 18: Compound Conundrum

OBJECTIVE: Recognizing compound subjects and compound verbs in writing

Getting Started: Compound subjects are two or more subjects, joined by a conjunction, that take the

same verb. Compound verbs are joined by a connecting word and have the same subject.

Example: “The C.E.O. and his colleagues met in private quarters prior to releasing their statements

to the press.” The underlined words are the compound subject. Note that the compound subject,

joined by the conjunction “and,” takes a plural verb form.

Example: “The department met and discussed financial concerns.” The underlined words are the

compound verb.

A. Clip any article of interest to you in the Science Times (Tuesday) or Escapes (Friday) sections of The

New York Times. Tape the article in the space below or on a separate sheet of paper.

B. Read the selected article. Circle any compound subjects and underline any compound verbs you find.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

Write a short essay about the article you analyzed. Why did it interest you? What did you learn? How

could you learn more about the subject? Submit your essay to the school newspaper.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 35


WORKSHEET 19: State Your Case

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

19

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Choosing the correct case when using pronouns

Getting Started: Personal pronouns are little words that can cause big usage problems. To avoid

errors, be aware of the pronoun’s case. There are three cases: “nominative,” “objective” and

“possessive.” When pronouns are the subject in a sentence (the “doer” of the action), they are in the

nominative case. When pronouns are used as objects (the “receiver” of the action), the case is

objective. When pronouns are used to show possession (ownership), they are in the possessive case.

A. Use the chart below as a reference for personal pronoun selection.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS

Singular

Nominative Case Objective Case Possessive Case

First Person I me my, mine

Second Person you you your, yours

Third Person he, she, it him, her, it his, her, hers, its

Plural

Nominative Case Objective Case Possessive Case

First Person we us our, ours

Second Person you you your, yours

Third Person they them their, theirs

B. Work with a partner to find some of the pronouns in the chart above in today’s New York Times.

After each pronoun, identify its case based on how it was used in the article. Find five different

examples.

Example: She and I wanted to start our own business. Note: The personal pronouns in this sentence

are used as SUBJECTS (the doers of the action, nominative case)

● She (third-person singular, nominative case)

● I (first-person singular, nominative case)

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Pronoun Patrol: Work with your partner to find examples of pronouns you hear spoken and in material

you read outside of class. After a week on patrol, present what you and your partner heard/read to your

classmates and ask for a verdict of Right (thumbs up) or Wrong (thumbs down) on the pronoun useages

you found.

Listen for “my friends and I.” Why is this incorrect?

(Hint: Review subject and object phrases in your grammar book.)

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

20

LESSON

WORKSHEET 20: Stay On the Case of the Pronouns

OBJECTIVE: Choosing the correct form of pronouns for use in a critique

Getting Started: Correct use of personal pronouns improves with practice. In using personal pronoun

combinations (he and I, him and me), courtesy plays a role in deciding which of the two items in

the pronoun pair should go first. Put others before yourself: him and me; notme and him.

ACTIVITY A

● Look in the Arts section of today’s New York Times for a movie advertised that you and a friend

have both seen.

● Read a movie review in the Arts section, if one appeared today. (If there isn’t a movie review, there

might be a review of a concert, book or television show.)

● Write a review of the movie that you and your friend saw in the style of a Times review. Use

pronouns that refer to you and your friend.

ACTIVITY B

● Select an article from the international or national news pages of The Times about a meeting of

leaders of various countries or states.

● Write a paragraph summarizing the meeting. Use pronouns to represent the leaders after you have

used their names.

● Have someone read your paragraph and explain which pronouns refer to which leaders, to check

the clarity of your writing.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Listen for correct/incorrect pronoun pairs around your school (in the lunch room, in hallways, in classes,

during assemblies) or on television. Report on these examples of “pronoun abuse” to your class, without

identifying the speakers. Explain the incorrect examples, and then correct them.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 37


WORKSHEET 21: A Test Case

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

21

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Applying simple tests to decide if the usages of personal pronouns are correct

Getting Started: There are simple tests for correct personal pronoun usage.

When using compound personal pronouns as the subjects of a sentence (nominative case), separate the

pronouns to test your sentence. The same test can be applied to the use of personal pronouns in the

objective case. (See the second example below.)

Examples: Him and I went to the movies: wrong. Both pronouns are subjects of this sentence, but

“him” is an objective pronoun, which is incorrect as a subject for this sentence.

● Him went to the movies? NO! He went to the movies.

● I went to the movies? YES! I went to the movies.

● Correct sentence: He and I went to the movies.

Example: The movie frightened both her and I: Wrong.

The movie frightened her? YES!

The movie frightened I? NO! The movie frightened me.

● Correct sentence: The movie frightened both her and me.

A. Select and read an article from Tuesday’s Science Times section of The New York Times.

B. Find a partner and discuss what you each read. Jot down notes so you’ll remember who said what.

C. Write a summary of the information from the article you read and include references to the

discussion between you and your partner. On what points did you agree? Were there any pieces

of information that were a surprise to you OR your partner? What did your partner think about

the information you shared? In your summary, use personal pronouns to refer to your partner

and yourself.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Make a poster explaining correct and incorrect personal pronoun use.

Use the following headings: RIGHT! WRONG! WHY?

Illustrate your poster with examples of correct usage from The Times.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 38


WORKSHEET 22: Focus of the Week

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

22

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Identifying grammar in action in The New York Times

Getting Started: Development of grammatically correct writing skills takes time and practice.

Using The New York Times as a practice tool can help anyone recognize — and use — standard

written English.

A. As a class, select a weekly topic for items to look for in your daily reading of The Times. For

example, one week, your teacher may ask you to focus on finding examples of apostrophes in the

newspaper. Another week, the focus may be on the correct use of adjectives. Whatever the topic of

the week is, use the format below to keep track of your findings as you add them to your

grammar/language notebook.

Focus/Topic of the Week:

Rules to remember:

Examples found during the week:

Item Page/Section/Headline

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Each week, your teacher will identify a class member to be the Acting Staff Sergeant. If you are selected,

your daily duty for one week is to find an interesting guideline in your classroom’s copy of “The New

York Times Manual of Style and Usage.” For example:

store (-), (-)store. Most compounds formed with “store” as a prefix are one word: storefront,

storehouse, storekeeper, storeroom. Most but not all compounds formed with “store” as a suffix

are two words; bookstore, cigar store, department store, drugstore, grocery store.

Share the information with your class and ask them to look for opportunities to apply the guideline selected.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 39


WORKSHEET 23: Apostrophe Cleanup

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

23

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Understanding how apostrophes enhance and clarify meaning

Getting Started: Apostrophes cause more problems than they should. If you understand the proper uses

of apostrophes and practice them, you can eliminate “apostrophe catastrophes” from your writing.

A. Look for apostrophes in the ads in today’s New York Times. For each apostrophe you find,

explain below how it is used and find the rule in a grammar resource that explains why the

apostrophe was used.

B. Repeat this activity with different parts of today’s New York Times. Refer to your grammar book to

find out why the apostrophes were used.

C. Select 20 nouns from the front page of today’s New York Times that do not indicate possession.

List these nouns on a large chart in your classroom and show the possessive form of the singular

and plural nouns you found.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Evidence of apostrophe misuse — apostrophes that are unnecessary or those that are left out — can be

found everywhere. Focus on store signs, advertising fliers, letters, textual information scrawling across

the bottom of the television screen, posters, the Internet and e-mail. Keep an especially watchful eye out

for its and it’s.

Note the crime and the perpetrator and prepare an A.P.B. (All Points Bulletin) each time this failure to

observe a law of grammar is discovered.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 40


WORKSHEET 24: Contracting Verbs

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

24

LESSON

OBJECTIVE:

Creating contractions and using apostrophes to show the position of dropped letters

Getting Started: The use of contractions is more acceptable in informal writing than in more formal

written communication. Newspaper articles generally contain fewer contractions than in more

informal writing.

A. Scan Science Times (Tuesday), Dining In/Dining Out (Wednesday), Editorials and

Op-Ed pages (every day) of The New York Times to find examples of verbs that could have been

contracted but were not.

B. In the space below, write the original verb used in the newspaper, the contraction that could have

been used and errors that are commonly made with the use of this contraction. Put a large X over

each error example, as a reminder not to make this mistake.

Verbs Contraction Frequent Error!

Example: I have been I’ve been Ive been

C. As you find contractions in the newspaper, add them to the list above. Make sure you correctly

write out the verbs used to form the contraction.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE:

Many product advertisements in The New York Times contain a simple illustration or picture of

the product and a few words to describe it.

Select one of these ads and write a description of the item for sale. Use adjectives and contractions in

your description.

Clip the original ad from The Times and tape it on a plain sheet of paper. Put your description below

or beside the advertisement and present your work to the class.

Discuss: Why do some ads have little or no written information about the product that is being advertised?

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 41


WORKSHEET 25: Spelling Rules!

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

25

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Applying spelling rules to words in advertisements

Getting Started: There are some basic spelling rules that you review every school year and that you

use without even thinking. Some of these rules have to do with changing words from singular to

plural forms.

A. Look through your grammar and spelling textbooks to find the spelling rules for changing singular

words to plural forms. Review these rules and keep a copy of them handy for reference in

completing this activity.

B. Clip singular and plural nouns from some of the retail advertisements in today’s New York Times.

Use the chart below to plug in the nouns in the appropriate spaces.

C. Design a poster with these clips, showing how you made singular nouns into plural nouns, and the

rules you applied in each case.

Example:

Singular Form Plural Form Rule Application

car cars Add the letter “s” to form the plural of most nouns

fax faxes Add “es” to singular nouns ending in “s,” “sh,” “ch” and “x.”

video videos Add the letter “s” to nouns ending in “o” when the “o” is

preceded by a vowel. Add “es” when the singular form of the

noun ends in a consonant.

mother-in-law mothers-in-law Form the plural of a hyphenated compound word by adding

the letter “s” to the chief word even if it does not appear at

the end.

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Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

26

LESSON

WORKSHEET 26: Department of Corrections

Student Name:

OBJECTIVE: Recognizing incorrect grammar and spelling in everyday life and correcting the errors

Getting Started: We see language violations everywhere: on television, in print, and on the Internet.

We may hear errors, but to see them repeatedly on signs, on news scrolls on television, on the Web,

on fliers and in other printed materials can make us question our own ability to distinguish correct

and incorrect grammar.

You’ve been drafted into the ranks of the grammar police! Your first assignment is to respond to an A.P.B.

on grammatical errors that surround us every day. Work in teams of four or five to find examples of

grammar and spelling errors (even those that are intentional).

Your team’s job is to ferret out the glaring errors that bombard us every day. Be watchful and like every

good police officer, keep track of all the “violations” you encounter. Write a ticket for each offense.

NOTEBOOK MODEL

GRAMMAR VIOLATION

Offense:

Correction:

Law (rule) broken:

Date:

Place:

Grammar Officer:

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 43


WORKSHEET 27: Just a Formality

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

27

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Distinguishing between informal and formal language use

Getting Started: Informal language characterizes most casual conversation. Speaking with friends,

we may use slang, colloquial expressions and grammar that may not be acceptable in more formal

written expression.

A. Select an article or review from the Arts or Weekend sections of The New York Times.

B. Read the item you selected and prepare to tell a classmate about it.

C. Partner with a classmate. One of you will be the recorder and the other will be the speaker. Tell

your classmate what you read in the piece you selected. Your partner’s job is to write down what

you say, while the tape recorder is running.

D. After you talk, switch roles with your classmate.

E. Together, listen to the recordings of your talks with each other and compare what you hear with

what you each wrote.

F. Identify any differences you note in your writing, compared to the recording of your talk. List

below any of the informal statements, words, slang, and affectations of speech that you noted in

the recording that were not in your writing.

● WHAT YOU WROTE ABOUT THE TIMES ARTICLE (formal)

● HOW YOU TALKED ABOUT IT (informal)

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

28

LESSON

WORKSHEET 28: A Personal Word Bank

OBJECTIVE: Acquiring new vocabulary words

Read an editorial in The New York Times and circle any words you do not understand.

Clip the editorial and tape it in your vocabulary notebook.

Look up the words you do not know in a dictionary or thesaurus and write possible synonyms for each

word alongside the editorial. (A synonym is a word that is similar in meaning.)

Note: Editorials are the newspaper’s opinions about an important issue in the news. To have a better

understanding of the editorial, read news articles on the topic that appeared that day or in the days

before the editorial was published.

Model Vocabulary Notebook Page:

bad,

flagrant

A38 N

The Padilla Decision

In a signal 2-to-1 ruling yesterday, a federal

appeals court in Manhattan struck a blow against

egregious presidential overreaching in the name of

fighting terrorism. The court, ruling in the case of

Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber, denied the

Bush administration’s sweeping claim that the

president has executive authority to hold Americans

indefinitely in secret without access to lawyers

simply by declaring them ‘‘enemy combatants.’’

Mr. Padilla, an American citizen, was taken

into custody in Chicago in May 2002. He is being held

incommunicado at a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C,

where he has been denied access to counsel. Not

long after his arrest, Attorney General John Ashcroft

announced that Mr. Padilla was part of a plot

by Al Qaeda to explode a radiological ‘‘dirty bomb.’’

But no charges have yet been brought.

While the ruling was in the particular case of

Mr. Padilla, the decision’s larger message — that

there are constitutional limits on the president’s

power to deny basic civil liberties in the name of

fighting terrorism — is one that protects the liberty

of all Americans.

The two-judge majority underscored that it

was not denying the serious threat that Al Qaeda

poses, nor the president’s responsibility to protect

the nation. The court also did not address the

substance of the government’s suspicions about

Mr. Padilla. Rather, the decision correctly found

that the president possesses no inherent constitutional

authority as commander in chief to detain as

enemy combatants American citizens seized on

THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIALS

under the circumstances of Mr. Padilla’s case, the

ruling said, citing a 1971 statute, was not authorized

by Congress.

The dissenting judge, Richard Wesley, disagreed

with that reading of the president’s power.

But he, too, objected to the denial of counsel to Mr.

Padilla.

The decision now gives the government 30 days

to release Mr. Padilla from military custody. But

that does not mean he will be released. The government

remains free to transfer him to civilian authorities,

who can bring criminal charges or, if

appropriate, hold him as a material witness in

connection with grand jury proceedings.

At a critical moment when various aspects of

the Bush administration’s troubling record of curtailing

civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism

are working their way to a resolution by the

Supreme Court, yesterday’s ruling on Mr. Padilla’s

detention could not have been more welcome.

It came just hours before another judicial repudiation

of the administration’s view that fighting

terrorism essentially exempts it from normal constitutional

constraints. A federal appeals court in

California ruled in a separate case that prisoners

held at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba

should have access to lawyers and the American

court system.

Together, these could be signs that the administration’s

strategy of aggressively bypassing the

traditional protections of the criminal justice sys-

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 45


Student Name:

OBJECTIVE: Applying spelling rules

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

29

LESSON

WORKSHEET 29: Spelling Rules in Action

For each spelling rule you review as a class, look for examples of the rule being used in The New

York Times. Add each word to your grammar/language notebook and to a classroom chart of

spelling-rule reminders.

Model Spelling Notebook Page:

drop the “e” (in stumble) when

adding -ing

plural form adds “s” before the

suffix “by”

plural form changes the “y” to “i”

and adds “es”

THE NEW YORK TIMES, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2003

D R I V I N G

Halfway

There,

A Family

Stops toEat

By STEVE KURUTZ

FOR travelers inclined to take the

long and winding back roads, there

is, perhaps, no greater reward

than stumbling upon a ramshackle

old roadside restaurant. With little more

than a clapboard frame and a colorful sign,

the best of them seem to promise to hungry

passersby all the most desirable charms:

Delicious Food, Local Character, Depression-Era

Prices.

Red’s & Trudy’s, which sits at the bottom

of a gentle, sloping pull-off near the intersection

of Routes 305 and 417 in Portville, N.Y.,

possesses all these qualities. In fact, I believe

it’s one of the finest roadside restaurants

in the history of roadside restaurants.

This is a biased opinion, of course, but it is

the kind of bias informed by extensive research;

my family has been stopping at

Red’s & Trudy’s for over 60 years now,

dating to the early 1940’s when my maternal

grandparents found the place while traveling

to visit relatives.

A FIXED POINT Over the decades, Red’s & T

up in a small, railroad town in central

Pennsylvania named Renovo and moved,

after they married, to Buffalo. Partly because

of homesickness and, in later years,

for holidays, they often made the 200-mile

drive back to their birthplace. When my

mother was grown, she moved to Renovo

and, in turn, my family drove up to Buffalo.

Red’s & Trudy’s is indelibly linked with

these trips.

M

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 46


WORKSHEET 30: Abbreviation Elation

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

30

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Decoding abbreviations for meaning

Create a chart of abbreviations you find in The New York Times.

(You may include acronyms, e.g., C.E.O., for chief executive officer of a corporation.)

Use news articles in The Times to decode the meaning of the abbreviations and/or acronyms.

Write the meaning next to each abbreviation.

Abbreviation/Acronym Headline of Times Article Meaning

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

Write a news article about an event that took place in your class. Use abbreviations that are appropriate

to the report. Study the writing style of The Times as your model. Submit your edited report to the

school newspaper.

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Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

31

LESSON

WORKSHEET 31: A Times Spelling Bee

OBJECTIVE: Identify correct spelling of key vocabulary words and their context in news articles

in The New York Times

● Prepare for the spelling bee by reading the international pages in section A of today’s

New York Times.

● Create a list of spelling words drawn from these pages. See especially the “Foreign Journal”

feature on page A4.

● Participate in the spelling bee. You will be asked to spell a word from the list created by your

classmates and identify its context based on the report in The Times.

Each team receives one point if its representative spells the word correctly and a second point for

identifying the context of the word in the article.

Repeat the spelling bee using each section of The Times.

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 48


WORKSHEET 32: Photo Op

Student Name:

Grammar Rules: Using The New York Times to Teach Grammar, Punctuation and Clarity in Writing

32

LESSON

OBJECTIVE: Writing concise and accurate descriptions

● Clip a powerful photo from The New York Times. Separate the photo from the caption.

● Tape the photo on one side of a piece of paper.

● Hold on to the caption.

● Exchange the photo with another student.

● Looking only at the photo, write a caption for it.

When finished, compare the professional caption written by a Times copy editor with your version.

Tape the original here.

Explain the difference:

What is required to write a concise and accurate caption?

| nytimes.com/nie | (800) 631-1222 49

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